10 Tips for Staffing Your Virtual Office

10 Tips for Staffing Your Virtual Office

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By James Adams

A virtual office comes with special challenges because your team is comprised of virtual workers who are come from all sorts of places around the world. Different time zones, language barriers, ethnic backgrounds, and work habits can make virtual office management incredibly difficult. Here are 10 tips for staffing your virtual office that will help you make your efforts successful and profitable, no matter what business you are in.

1. Know where to look – When looking for virtual workers, you must know where to look to find people who will help. You can look for them yourself via venues such as Twitter and Craigslist, or you can try a virtual workforce service such as Guru, Elance, Team Double Click and others that will do much to help you find the kind of worker you are looking for.

2. Look for independent workers – Many virtual workers feel ignored and report that they often feel disconnected from the people for whom they work. You require people who are accustomed to working on their own and will not become vulnerable to perceived isolation.

3. Look for equipped workers – You need to find people who are able to work effectively in support of your efforts. This means that they need a computer with software that they need to do work for you as well as a reliable Internet connection. You may want to have virtual workers do trial work while you evaluate whether they have the capability to do the work.

4. Develop effective management techniques – Many principles of management apply in the virtual workforce, although monitoring productivity if more difficult. Communication is essential. You need to lay down guidelines for communicating with you and with other workers in your virtual office. You need to get prompt feedback from virtual workers so you can know the status of the projects and tasks you have assigned.

5. Choose appropriate project management software – Whether you run project management software on your own server or subscribe to a hosted service, you need to choose from options that might include Basecamp (http://basecamphq.com/) or activeCollab. Depending on your industry, there may even be project management options that are specially suited for your work.

6. Use the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce – get leads to credible workers who have been screened for several metrics including skills and competencies. This organization provides resources for virtual workers and employers and often acts as a facilitator for developing proposals. Services like these can help take the risk out of running a virtual office.

7. Avoid exploitation – Many virtual workers reside in oppressed countries where labor is routinely mistreated as an expendable resource. By treating workers well you base your virtual office on moral principles that respect human rights. In short treat your virtual team members the same as if they came into your office every day to work.

8. Use time tracking software – How you track the time you and your workers spend working is up to you. You could manage time via check-in and check-out emails and transpose them into spreadsheets, or you could choose to use online time management solutions such as Harvest or one of a variety of solutions that can run on your own server.

9. Encourage interaction – your virtual office is just like a traditional office, except that your people are far away. As the leader of the effort, you should encourage your virtual team to interact together as would any other team so you can take leadership and focus on your business objectives.

10. Get associated with other virtual workers – As a virtual office manager, you are part of a growing number of people who earn a living in a non-traditional way. The challenges of a virtual distributed workforce are enormous, as you may already know, but it’s hard to do it alone. Join a network such as VA Networking to meet other managers like you and to integrate into the virtual worker community.

Operating a virtual office is not an easy task. Use these 10 tips for staffing your virtual office to help turn your efforts into success.

Author Information

James Adams, a writer for one of the leading specialists in office furniture for UK based businesses called Office Kitten.

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